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The Normalization of PRIDE

by Aleasa Word, FAACT’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

June 2022

As a kid, my family moved a few times, bouncing back and forth between Maryland and Delaware. When we lived in Maryland, I would often talk about my roots in Delaware and beam with PRIDE talking about my large family and how we weren’t that far away from them. In high school, there were a lot of kids trying to find themselves, so anyone who had PRIDE about anything was typically ridiculed. The only way some kids knew how to make themselves feel big was to make others feel small. Some kids are pros at the “I’m big, you’re small” behavior. Fortunately, most kids grow out of that thinking as their brains develop cognitively. They start to realize that feeling big (or confident) doesn’t mean they have to tear someone else down. They can and should be confident in their own abilities while simultaneously feeling free to be proud of others and their abilities – or even their differences.

One thing I did not count on growing up was having to prove myself, because sometimes I looked mixed, sometimes I looked black. Life taught me that no matter what the shade of my skin was, I had every right to be proud of it because it was simply part of who I am. Think about that for a second. Who leaves the womb and stops at the picker booth to choose their color or orientation before they meet their parents? Simply said, you are who you are. You are amazing just as you are!

That brings me to a very important issue we have to think about in 2022: A lot of our young people (and even adults) are forced to feel that who they are and what they represent is not good enough. They are pushed to the point of depression, anxiety, or worse. This is especially true with those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Sometimes people are perfectly fine with others in their community until they find out one thing: their orientation. This is NOT OK! How can we go from being totally ok with someone, hanging out with them, letting them be our doctor, teacher, or friend to having an issue because of one thing that is different from you or me – who they like, love, or are attracted to?

Honestly, we are all different in some way. NO ONE IS THE SAME, and that is OK. You have the right to be who you are, and others have that same right…to be happy about who they are and to walk with a sense of PRIDE every single day!

In the food allergy community, we fight hard to get people to accept our children and challenge people to see food allergies as a health condition we have and do not choose. We are still fully functioning people outside of our food allergies. We protest, write letters, and even boycott brands or products. We are proud of who we are and what we represent.

In this month when we celebrate PRIDE, I support those who live or love differently than I do. As a proud member of the FAACT family, I can honestly say our entire team supports the differences everyone brings to the table. Each person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Each person deserves to feel included, as well as be treated equally and equitably. With PRIDE…..let us all stand as allies.